5 Healthy Reasons to Pack More Pears Into Your Diet
PSA: they're still in season.
Fun fact: pears are one of the few fruits that ripen best once they're off the tree. Because pears ripen from the inside out, the best way to see if they've reached peak ripeness is to check their neck. To do this, gently press near the stem with your thumb. When it gives to gentle pressure this means it’s ripe, juicy, and ready to eat. If you wait until the pear is soft around the middle, then it will be overripe.
Now that you’ve picked the perfect pear, here are five important health benefits you’ll reap from eating it, according to Amy R. Kweller, MS, RD. Many varieties of U.S. pears (bartlett, comice, concorde, forelle, and seckel) have peak season taste right now, so don’t waste any time.
A medium-sized pear packs 6 grams of fiber, which is 21 percent of the recommended daily value (based on the new Daily Reference Values). Much of the fiber in fresh pears is in the form of pectin, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. The skin contains the majority of the fiber found in a pear, so be sure to keep the skin on for added flavor, texture, and nutrients.
Cancer Protection & Gut Health
A new epidemiological study that was published in JAMA Oncology in October found that high intakes of dietary fiber and yogurt may be associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer. People who consumed the most fiber (27.8 grams per day among women, 31 grams per day among men) were 17 percent less likely to develop lung cancer than those who consumed less. Those with both high yogurt and high fiber intake had a 33 percent lower risk. This is an interesting development in gut health also because recent research suggests that certain microbes may play a role in lung inflammation. The study investigators believe the prebiotics and probiotics found in fiber-rich foods and yogurt may favorably change the gut microbiome in a way that supports lung health.
Additionally, an in-vitro study showed that as pears are digested, the growth of harmful bacteria slowed without affecting beneficial bacteria with probiotic potential. In this case, the harmful bacteria refers to ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori, the most common chronic bacterial infection in humans.
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
Researchers believe pears may be beneficial for heart disease and stroke due to their flavonoids (a class of antioxidants), fiber, and vitamin C content.
Pears Keep You Fuller, Longer
Pears are particularly satisfying because of their high fiber content. According to an epidemiology study, adults who eat pears are 35 percent less likely to be obese compared to those who do not eat pears. Another study suggests that eating three pears or apples every day may aid in weight loss compared to eating cookies that have the same amount of calories and fiber.
Protection Against Type 2 Diabetes
Everyone’s body needs carbohydrates, and it is best to balance them with fiber, protein, or fat at every meal. Balancing carbohydrates decreases the rate of absorption of glucose, so your blood sugar won’t spike as dramatically. Good carbohydrate choices are those that already contain these nutrients, such as fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like pears. According to Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association, a medium-sized pear ranks 38 on the glycemic index and is considered a low glycemic food.